US, China pledge cooperation

Chinese President Hu Jintao is scheduled to make a visit to US on January 19.

Washington: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi vowed on Wednesday that their countries would cooperate closely despite differences on China`s currency and other issues.

"We are preparing diligently for the upcoming state visit by (Chinese) President Hu Jintao. It`s very much anticipated and looked forward to," Hillary said as she posed for photographs with Yang at the State Department.

Hu is due here on January 19.

"And both the minister and I feel a great sense of responsibility to ensure that it continues the positive, cooperative comprehensive relationship between our two countries," the chief US diplomat said.

Yang said: "I think China-US relationship is on the right track. We are confronted with common challenges and we are enjoying common opportunities.”

"It`s in the best interests of China, the United States and the world for us to continue to work together so that our relationship will bring more benefits to both our two peoples and to the people of the world," he said.

Preparations for Hu`s visit are "proceeding very well”, Yang added.

As part of the preparations, Yang met US President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday to discuss the row over the Chinese yuan, US-China trade, Iran, North Korea and the upcoming referendum in Sudan.

The White House has signalled it will keep up pressure on Beijing to allow its yuan currency to appreciate. Critics say China keeps the yuan undervalued to gain an unfair trade advantage that has cost thousands of US jobs.

"China plays an enormously important role in our global economy, and China has to take steps to rebalance its currency," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters on Wednesday.

"And the President will continue to make that point when President Hu is here, as he did with the foreign minister," he said.

Gibbs said human rights, the global economy, and North Korea will be on the agenda.

Washington has been urging China to rein in its Communist ally North Korea, which in November shelled a South Korean island, killing four people.

Gibbs also dismissed the criticism that Obama had soft pedalled human rights with China, saying he had raised the issue personally with Hu himself.

Obama and Hu last met in Seoul on the fringes of the Group of 20 summit in November and are due to hold talks at the White House and a state dinner during the Chinese President`s visit.

Bureau Report

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